Whilst I have been busy trying out different traditional South Indian dishes, I have not taken the time to blog them. Here’s hoping to make up for them and keeping my South Indian Food Series, that I wrote about here, alive.
Last night I remade this recipe that I have tried a few times now and its always as delectable as it was last night.
The Banana Stem Yogurt curry, also known as Vazhathandu Morkootu (வாழைத் தண்டு மோர்மூல் குட்டு). Yogurt is a little bit of misnomer here, its sort of more Indian buttermilk made from yogurt but we will get to that.
A little something about Banana Stem before we delve into the recipe. Banana or plantain plant is a quintessential tropical plant – found in every farm/village homes in south India. The beauty of the plant is every single part of the plant is used in the eating process and every single part is absolutely health driven.
The Banana stem itself is white and very highly fibrous. It is said to be extremely good for your intestine and gastric health among other health benefits. Its an excellent detoxifier and helps also promote healthy and beneficial weight loss by controlling cholesterol.
The most tedious (relatively speaking) part of the recipe is in preparing the Banana stem for the curry. It needs to be cut and excess fibre removed before cooking. It also oxidises very quickly so it needs to be kept in a buttermilk or curdled water to prevent oxidation.
The easiest way is to remove outer layers which would leave a thinner stem. Begin cutting the stem along the cross section into thin circular strips. As you do that, feel for and remove the excess fibre along the way. Dunk the circular pieces in the butter milk or curd water to prevent oxidation as you work on the stem. Once you have the circular strips, then dicing them into smaller cubes is an easier process.
To cook them – you can either cook them in a covered sauce pan until they are tender or pressure cook them for about 5 whistles on the cooker.
For the sauce base of the curry –
Part 1: Spices
Soak some cumin, coriander seeds, green chillies and a few pieces of split peas or channa dal (optional) for about 20 minutes
Add freshly grated coconut and the soaked spices and grind well in a mixer until a smooth paste is achieved.
Soaking helps the spices to grind more easily and into a finer paste.
Part 2: Indian Buttermilk
To 2-3 big spoons of thick home set curd or yogurt add a glass of water and beat it will to achieve a smooth buttermilk like liquid. You can add more or less water depending on the consistency. Beat well to make sure the curd is well churned. Set aside to add later.
The beauty of South Indian and in fact any Indian food is in this step – that of tempering. This is where the dish comes together and becomes the flavour bomb. I especially love this delectable combination of the south Indian temper combo that you will come across repeatedly in most quintessential south Indian curries – dry or wet.
Fresh Curry Leaves, Red chillies (2 or 3), mustard seeds and a spoon of split or whole white urad dal.
This what the dish looks like when assembled
Assembling the Dish
In a pan, add oil (I always use coconut oil for tempering any south Indian curry) and splutter the tempering ingredients – in the order of mustard, curry leaves, urad dal and red chillies allowing each item to release its flavour as it is added.
Add cooked Banana stem and stir them in.
You may add turmeric at this stage – but its optional. Some people like to keep the color of this dish to the natural pristine white of coconut, banana stem and yogurt. Also since the bananas are themselves detoxifying, turmeric in entirely optional.
Add the spice paste made and stir it nicely until they get coat the veggies and all the spices are well mixed.
Add some water to slightly loosen the mixture, if needed. You can add in the salt at this stage.
Once the mixture cooks for a while and mixes well, add in the butter milk. Adjust the salt to taste if you need to at this stage.
Cook for about 5-10minutes on low flame. You want the buttermilk to mix in well and come to a boil but not too much so it curdles.
Serve with hot steamed white or brown rice.
Enjoy! I will leave you with this thought for today
“Let food be your first medicine, the kitchen your first pharmacy.”